More than 200 feared drowned in Tanzania ferry disaster

Tanzania ferry capsize Dozens killed as rescue effort suspended

More than 200 feared dead after boat capsizes on Lake Victoria: At least 42 people have died after a ferry carrying hundreds of people capsized on Lake Victoria, Tanzania.

Thirty-seven people had been rescued from the sea, while the confirmed death toll rose to 44 from 42, Jonathan Shana, the regional police commander for Mwanza, a port on the southern shore of the lake, told Reuters by phone on Friday.

Local media, however, reported that six people had died. "It is feared that a significant number have lost their lives", said George Nyamaha, head of Ukerewe District Council.

The Tanzania Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency, in charge of servicing the vessels, urged patience in a statement as rescue efforts began.

Initial estimates showed that the MV Nyerere was carrying more than 300 people onboard.

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but overloading is frequently to blame.

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TEMESA spokesperson Theresia Mwami said the operator had carried out maintenance on the ferry in recent months, overhauling two engines.

The Tanzanian government has confirmed the ferry capsized but exact figures for those on board are yet to be confirmed.

In 1996, a ferry disaster on Lake Victoria killed at least 800 people in one of the worst ferry accidents in the last century, according to the BBC.

Boat disasters are frequent on Tanzania's waters, where ferries often exceed their capacity.

Almost 200 people died in 2011 when the MV Spice Islander I sank off Tanzania's Indian Ocean coast near Zanzibar.

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